Fringe Toast Summer Song List for Beachy Days & Dreamy Nights

Kacey Musgraves

This 13-song playlist of tracks released in the past few years will stir your heart in wonderful ways. The artist leading the list, Texas singer-songwriter Kacey Musgraves, is a seven-time Grammy Award winner. I recently watched the recording of her Apple Music Live set, where she performed with a variety of world-class musicians. She won me over with her charming style and musical genius.

Tracks on this list span a variety of genres—from country, blues, and alternative to pop, soul, folk, and electronic. Artists come from England, Scotland, Turkey, and the U.S.

“Deeper Well” and “Too Good to Be True” by Kacey Musgraves. Listen closely to these subtle, nuanced melodies from a good-hearted Texas lady. Multiple vocal harmonies simmer behind Kacey’s lead singing, which stays steadily on top, complemented by her folk guitar colorings. Lyrically, Kacey’s songs follow variations about her elusive search for intimate, unifying love.

Madison Cunningham

“Inventing the Wheel” by Madison Cunningham. In this song from her third studio album, 27-seven-year-old Californian Madison Cunningham continues to charm a growing fan collective. She possesses the skillful art of creating imaginative, original songs that tell personal stories. This is one of them: “She’s not inventing the wheel / She’s not the first to feel / Like she’s the only one coming up against herself.” Notice her utter fluency on the guitar, including her use of shifting modulations to other “key centers” with borrowed chords . . . and virtually no squeaking of nylon strings. Ah!

“Coffee Blues” by Omer Balik. The Turkish electronic house-music producer and composer garners praise for his lush, intricate blending of Eastern and Western music. The production quality is through the roof—so much color, bass funk, and electronic sophistication in this natural minor aeolian tune that satisfies with a pleasing after-chill.

“Salt and the Sea” by The Lumineers. The Denver-based Lumineers continue to build an international following for their music. This song is pure emotion; the piano is especially beautiful in lifting the heart.

“Someone You Loved” by Lewis Capaldi. The Scottish singer has a distinctively strong and balanced voice. His angst about a breakup is caught deeply in this heartbreaking song. What a unique voice!

“Biblical (acoustic)” by Calum Scott. An English songwriter, Calum has a wide vocal range that makes for an effortless ascent into marvelous falsettos. This lament of a couple’s love is so familiar, with the pressures that pull people apart in these modern times, yet the root story seems timeless.

Chris Thile, Jacob Collier, and Madison Cunningham

“Summer Rain” by Jacob Collier with Madison Cunningham and Chris Thile. Brilliant 29-year-old composer and multi-instrumentalist Jacob Collier blends his incredible voice with Madison’s talents and Chris’s mandolin playing. This gorgeous, emotionally evocative acoustic ballad was written as a collaboration among the three. Pay special attention to Jacob’s special five-string acoustic guitar without the top “E” string—it’s one of his signature tunings that allow him a more open sound. If you have noticed the maturation of Madison’s voice, you will hear how seasoned, daring, and charming it has become. As usual, Chris Thile contributes splendid mandolin playing with his upper-register counter melodies.

Kathy Stack

“Summer Wind” by Kathy Stack. Hailing from Orangeburg, South Carolina, Kathy Stack contributed this track to the 2015 CD Psychemagik Presents: Magik Sunset, Pt. 1. On this down-home, backwoods, quarter-note-heavy song, Kathy plays Appalachian-style three-chord acoustic guitar accompanied by a wailing wooden flute. Notice the serene vocal harmonies and blues-jazz riffing.

“Picture You” by Chappell Roan. This 26-year-old Missourian is known for darker-toned synth-pop compositions. On “Picture You,” good songwriting is accompanied by a chordal church cadence that is elevated even higher by great production. Chappell’s lonely, emotional voice evokes a West Coast flavor, perhaps similar to the early music of Grace Slick.

Maya Hawke

“So Long” by Maya Hawke. The daughter of actors Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, Maya is carving out professional competencies in modeling, acting, and singing. After a spare, reverb-colored steel guitar sets the stage, Maya’s whispery vocals enter, accompanied by folk acoustic guitar. Listen closely to the influences of a few different musical elements, including a nod to spaghetti westerns.

Over the Finish Line” by Aoife O’Donovan and Anaïs Mitchell. In this gospel-tinged, melancholy exhortation to change the world, Aoife encourages people to participate in the 2024 elections to ensure the future of our democracy. Block piano chords build the foundation for the solo and vocal harmonies between these two icons of the modern folk world.

“So Blue” by Four Tet. English-born Kiernan Hebden has been recording indie electronic instrumental music for more than 20 years under the Four Tet moniker. If you are unsure whether or not you like electronic music, listen to this intriguing, creative tune featuring skilled studio engineering that generates a spacious soundscape. Kiernan is indeed a wizard of electronic synth elements.


Listen to full free tracks on a shared Spotify playlist under my handle as DJ Andy Bargerstock: “Summer 2024 Playlist—Fringe Toast Style.”